Ethnic equality

20th September 1996 at 01:00
Your two articles and leader of September 6 about an Office for Standards in Education report on changes in ethnic minority GCSE achievement claim that while there has been an overall improvement in the past decade, this has been combined with a growing gap between the highest and lowest achieving ethnic groups in some local authorities in recent years.

However, they fail to cite any evidence on the question of whether ethnic minorities as a whole or any specific groups have enjoyed more or less than the national average improvement in any period, which is surely the primary issue of concern about ethnic minority equity.

In fact, the only national answer that would appear to be beyond impressionistic speculation is that due to the abject failure of OFSTED and other central statistical agencies to monitor such a vital equal opportunities issue, we are still essentially ignorant about the national facts of it. Rather than the desperate attempts of the media to manufacture some shocking headlines about increasing ethnic inequity, the truly shocking headline news should rather have been that OFSTED's report was not based on inspection evidence because it has not collected any.

One possibility worthy of further investigation is that ethnic minorities may have enjoyed above average improvements recently. Between 1992 and 1995 the national average increase in GCSE point scores was 3.6 points. Local authorities with some of the highest concentrations of ethnic minorities showed average and above improvement. For example, nine of the inner London authorities - including Hackney, Lambeth, Lewisham and Tower Hamlets - fall in this category, along with Birmingham, Bradford, Brent and others.

Moreover, I note that the evidence from Brent cited in your report - that Asians, Whites and African-Caribbeans enjoyed increases of 8.0, 5.4 and 6.4 GCSE points repsectively between 1991 and 1993 - shows most strikingly that all these ethnic groups in Brent enjoyed well above the national average improvement of 3.5 points in that period.

CHARLES BELL BM Bell London WC1

Subscribe to get access to the content on this page.

If you are already a Tes/ Tes Scotland subscriber please log in with your username or email address to get full access to our back issues, CPD library and membership plus page.

Not a subscriber? Find out more about our subscription offers.
Subscribe now
Existing subscriber?
Enter subscription number

Comments

The guide by your side – ensuring you are always up to date with the latest in education.

Get Tes magazine online and delivered to your door. Stay up to date with the latest research, teacher innovation and insight, plus classroom tips and techniques with a Tes magazine subscription.
With a Tes magazine subscription you get exclusive access to our CPD library. Including our New Teachers’ special for NQTS, Ed Tech, How to Get a Job, Trip Planner, Ed Biz Special and all Tes back issues.

Subscribe now